“I discovered that I’m Zorastrian,” Morgan Freeman told me when I asked him if he had any surprise moments while hosting his new series, “The Story of God With Morgan Freeman.”
“That’s a surprise because I didn’t even know what it was,” the actor told me. (Freeman would go on to tell every reporter on the red carpet the same thing.)
Our exchange took place on the red carpet at the show’s premiere Monday evening at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in Manhattan.
Morgan, who was the voice of God in the Jim Carrey movie “Bruce Almighty” (2003), now hosts “The Story of God,” which he also executive produced. The six-part series features Freeman, who travels the world for 40 days and 40 nights, on a journey to understand how a belief in God has helped us to answer the fundamental questions about life and death.
The Story of God With Morgan Freeman – Religion and Spirituality
The series attempts to answer questions like what happens when we die? Each episode will cover another subject, including how neuroscience and science intersect in the world of religion. It also covers how the different religions relate to each other and how religion and spirituality give meaning to life. This is all pretty heavy stuff, but handled with the panache and verve of the host’s personality and the show’s spiffy visuals.
On the red carpet, journalists asked Freeman what inspired the series.
“It started years ago in Istanbul at the Hagia Sophia Museum, and then it sort of festered when we found out that Jesus was part of Islamic religious tradition. Then when we were doing ‘Through the Wormhole,’ we went through all these subject matters and stuff like creation and life after death etc.”
“Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman,” the Science Channel series about the mysteries of the universe, is narrated and executive produced by Freeman, along with Lori McCreary, his longtime producing partner at Revelations Entertainment.
A reporter dropped his iPhone during this exchange, and Freeman picked it up and jokingly tucked it into his pocket as everyone laughed. Then without missing a beat he continued, “So we just segued into this program and then it was just a matter of selling it.”
I asked Morgan what he would ask God if he met him over a cup of coffee.
“That’s not a proper question, and I’ll tell you why. If you’re going to have coffee with God, you better take a couple months to figure what to say to him before you get there,” the actor said.
Bebe Neuwirth, who appears on the television show “Madame Secretary,” executive produced by Freeman – who she called her boss – spoke to me about her relationship with God and spirituality.
“I don’t believe in God in the usual sense when people say God. That’s not something I believe in. I believe that man created God,” she told me. “I believe in karma but that has to do with energy. I do get philosophical and I think why is this happening? What can I learn from it? I hope I can be enlightened enough to deal with this in a way that is useful and I hope I never do this again.”
The legendary Dionne Warwick did few stops on the red carpet, but lingered briefly when I asked about what kind of conversations she had with God.
“The same kind I have with you,” she said. “Straight up.”
As for what she hoped to learn from Freeman’s show, Warwick replied, “I hope it reinforces what I already know.”
Earlier on the red carpet, I saw Freeman stop for a long chat with celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. After the red carpet I asked about their exchange.
Freeman wanted to know what she cooked for the last two Popes. “Francis, he loved his risotto and his fish,” she told him, and then laughingly told the actor, “Now I have to cook for you. I have to think about God himself.”
Freeman looked slim and elegant in a dark suit and probably watched what he ate, I mentioned. “He’s slim,” Bastianich agreed, “But I’m sure he eats a lot, and he enjoys his food.”
“The Story of God With Morgan Freeman,” a six-part series, premieres Sunday, April 3 on the National Geographic Channel.